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Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  500 ratings  ·  97 reviews
A bestselling author and award winning journalist follows a year in the life of a big urban hospital, painting a revealing portrait of how medical care is delivered in America today

Most people agree that there are complicated issues at play in the delivery of health care today, but those issues may not always be what we think they are. In 2005, Maimonides Hospital in Broo
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 15th 2008 by Penguin Press HC, The
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This book was about the administration of Maimonides Hospital in New York and just about as thrilling as that sounds! It was a long, hard slog but in the same way as hill-walking is pretty hard step by step, but worth it for the view, the interesting things you see along the way and the accomplishment, quite enjoyable.

It was a real eye-opener for me, a hospital which is a business first, the chosen product being health care, coming as I do from the UK where private insurance for health care is
I'm very much a biased reader, but I have to ask where are the nurses? It really should have been called Hospital Administration. The author says she spent a year observing the workings at Maimonides but not once does she talk about the employees that are the backbone of any hospital. Ignore me while I rant but, every other person quoted in the book gets named and even most get a few glib sentences about their background, appearance or character. The nurses are called just that, "said by a nurse ...more
Mikey B.
This is a moving account of a hospital in Brooklyn. It is most rewarding when describing the plight of patients and their interactions with the doctors. To the credit of the author she never seems to take sides – or is unwilling to finger-point. There are emotional and excruciating passages – after all this is a hospital where there is death and prolonged dying. This is not a book one reads for extended durations of time (as one tends to do with a mystery novel) – it is too much to bear at times ...more
Jul 05, 2008 Laurie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laurie by: NYT
Shelves: nonfiction
Today I enjoyed reading an article adapted from this book. I always love these New York diversity stories.

Update: the book was interesting, but I only recommend it if you are passionately interested in reading about hospitals. I felt the author never really found the story she was looking for, and the book lacked direction. It was also difficult to keep track of the various people (hospital staff) who are introduced. The author didn't exhibit the gift of
This really isn't a two-star book -- it's well-written and, I'm sure, very valuable -- but it wasn't what I was expecting. Policy meetings, fund-raising efforts, and departmental politics are no more interesting (to me) just because they take place in a hospital and not at Nabisco or Walmart or any other business. I was expecting more gritty, human, behind-the-scenes stories of life in a big urban hospital. But hey, my fault for not reading the blurbs and reviews more carefully!
Read about 1/2. This book is desperately in need of a good editor...or at least a central point. It appears to be simply a brain dump of all the information collected by the author. Long conversations are repeated in their entirety.

Also, we get the fact that the hospital is unique in its cultural and ethnic diversity. The reader doesn't have to be repeatedly bludgeoned with the fact.
I picked up this book hoping to get a better sense of how hospitals are run. This is not that book. There is a lot of talk about administrative politics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, but the politics are so particular to this hospital that you can't really glean leanings about the industry as a whole just from these observations.

To be frank, it is an extremely boring subject matter. I almost put the book down multiple times, but it is a testament to Salamon's writing skill that I slo
Jon Silver
Fascinating book. An in-depth and beautifully written look inside a hectic Brooklyn hospital (Maimonides), focusing mostly on the executives but also the senior doctors, residents, fellows, nurses, and other parts of this gargantuan healthcare enterprise. The accounts of the petty rivalries were juicy and a joy to read, as was learning the intricacies of positioning a hospital as a community beacon in a community as radically diverse as South Central Brooklyn.

Indeed, like the hospital it descri
711Isabel B
So far, I'm really enjoying HOSPITAL: MAN WOAMN BIRTH DEATH INFINITY, PLUS RED TAPE, BAD BEHAVIOR, MONEY, GOD, AND DIVERSITY ON STEROIDS, by Julie Salamon. It is interesting, because so far, I think that an important idea is that people can cause chaos. For example, Pamela Brier, the CEO and president of Maimonides Medical Center. She has a sort of nervous energy, where she can't sit still during a meeting. She is a strong CEO, but she also has strong ideals, which she has trouble letting down a ...more
Ellen Keim
There was far too much about hospital politics in this book and not enough about what a hospital stands for: healing. (Or at least should stand for--after reading Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steroids, I wasn't so sure.) Not that the administrative side of running a hospital wasn't interesting, but in my opinion the author overdid it (or should have titled it differently!).

I think the book would have been better if the aut
The first chapter was really interesting. It made me think I was going to get a lot of interesting perspective. I think I thought I was getting an idea of a hospital from a medical student / doctor/ nurse's / administrator's / outsider's / community member's / immigrant's point of view. The anatomy of a hospital, I guess?

Instead this book turned into one about its politics. The politics behind building a new cancer wing, the dissent between separate specialized practices over money and personal
While I never was able to pronounce the name of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it.

The last bit of the subtitle: "and Diversity on Steroids" initially had me rolling my eyes, and even made me think twice about buying the book, as it seemed flip and unserious, but after reading it, it's quite seriously true and was the fact about the hospital that left the biggest impression on me. Now I lived in Queens for five years, so I thought I knew diversity, but what Ma
This book covers all that goes on behind the scenes at Maimonides Hospital in NYC--as the cover says: "Man, woman, birth, death, infinity, plus red tape, bad behavior, money, God, and diversity on steroids." Quite accurate! There are eye-popping details in the area of departmental feuds over funding, the personality conflicts between doctors who are also department heads, and the incredible power & control of insurance companies. Maimonides is also unique in that it was founded by and intend ...more
This is big picture hospital stuff--focusing on dozens of people in a major metropolitan area (Brooklyn) where 60 languages can be spoken in the ER. Founded as a Jewish hospital, the hospital still caters to the Orthodox who live in the neighborhood, but also a plethora of immigrants--some legal and some not--and a huge number of diseases and insurance coverages or lack thereof. I am generally interested in individual patient and doctor and nurse stories, but this was a compelling big picture lo ...more
I really loved this book. As a libarian who spends 40+ hours per week in a health care setting, I usually avoid books and tv shows about hospitals. But this book was the exception that proves the rule. A nonfiction work written by a woman who was given full access to all hospital departments over a full year, it reads more like a novel than a sociological treatise. A lot was familiar -- turf battles over space, struggles for profitability -- but I also learned a lot about the inner workings of h ...more
Dec 14, 2008 Kristin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who are interested in the workings of a hospital from an executive/leadership standpoint
My favorite genre of books is medical non-fiction, and having visited New York City many times, though not to this or any of their hospitals, I bought the book with high hopes that it would give me a glimpse into a portion of this fascinating city, much like many of the post-9/11 books I've read have.
Unfortunately, while it did provide insight into the workings of the hospital and the way it met the needs of its community, it was very much focused on the executives of the hospital and their effo
Very interesting. A real life experience in not just how hospitals work, but how people working and living in the hospitals work with each other. Reads like a story even though it is non-fiction. There were many people involved in this book, making it sometimes difficult to remember who was who, but it was refreshing to see the candor that they gave to the author. (Or at least what they offered in their interview to the author. However the author seemed to have a good sense for the person being ...more
Jun 17, 2011 Erica added it
I was really looking forward to this book--and then I put it down halfway through. I love books about workplaces that are unfamiliar to me, and I did find some of the actual hospital stuff interesting, especially since Maimonides is the one where I was born, and I'm very familiar with the neighborhood. But occasionally the author would add in these asides that were extremely judgemental, and it bugged me. The rest of the book would be fairly detached and objective, and then she'd introduce a per ...more
I agree with one of the reviewers of this book, it doesn't have a theme. But it is a well-written, thoughtful, and informative account of the inner workings of a major NYC hospital and the forces that determine or stand in the way of it's success. I was especially interested in reading this book because it was recommended in Oprah magazine but primarily because my husband is the director of engineering there. He hasn't read the book (and to my surprise, alot of the people who work there haven't ...more
This is normally just the kind of nonfiction that I love: based on immersion reporting from a familiar but not well understood setting. But Salamon's portrait of a year in the life of a Brooklyn hospital is mostly just chaotic--it was difficult to keep track of all the characters, the hospital departments, and even the basic chronology of events. I was willing to give the author some benefit of the doubt, since chaos is an integral part of her story, but I thought some judicious editing could ha ...more
I marked this book with two stars although I didn't finish it. It was interesting but not gripping enough to keep me reading. I don't want to criticize the writing. The writing was good. I thought the book would be more of a behind the scenes account of the medicine of a hospital, not necessarily of the administration of the hospital (which I probably would have realized if I read the description of the book more carefully).

So although I didm't finish the book and only gave it two stars, I do th
What I learned from this book with the long title is that there is a lot more going on in a city hospital than meets the eye. This behind-the-scenes look at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn is really an eye opener. There are so many factors at play in making this hospital work: administration, pressure from various ethnic groups for appropriate care, personalities and players in the tiers of medicine, and of course money matters. Salamon obviously spent a great deal of time and energy in research ...more
This book is a mass of detail that somehow remains balanced and interesting in the hands of an able author; less a history than a kaleidoscope of cultures and feuding personalities at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn. The eternal dilemma of knowledge presents itself: in matters of life and death, do the ends justify the means? Must the authority of expertise inflate one's ego? Is the fury of the physician-gods inevitable when subordinates create crises or prove incapable of dealing with them? Is ...more
Could have been so much better. Too much description of infighting. I abandoned it.
This was an incredibly interesting book. My husband, who is finishing his medical residency, had heard about the book and I read it as soon as he finished it. There are a lot of insights into the working world of a hospital and how the medical industry deals with patients, politics and health insurance. A lot of this information wasn't all that new, but Julie Salamon puts it in a very interesting perspective and writes with a captivating style. There were a few parts where it felt overly repetit ...more
Abby Howell
The book wasn't what I expected. I thought it would be more about the stories of the people served by the hospital. It's actually all about the people who run the hospital -- almost exclusively about the upper administrators and the politics surrounding running a 700+ bed private hospital in the middle of Brooklyn. The community is made up of Arabs, Jews, and about 40 other cultures. Interesting reading, although I found reading about all the infighting and politics rather depressing. The fights ...more
I really wanted to enjoy this - it seemed to have such an interesting premise - but I was pretty disappointed. Some parts were okay but for the most part, I found myself rather bored. There were far too many people to try to keep straight throughout each chapter and I wasn't interested enough to keep flipping to the list identifying all the various people. The best parts were when Salamon focused on the patients, or told the personal stories of the doctors. I definitely got lost in the budget me ...more
Aug 16, 2008 Jean rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jean by: Washington Post book review
If you've ever worked in a hospital you'll like this book. You'll be amazed it how it all works... or doesn't. She writes well and keeps it going but I do think it could have been a bit more "personal story "oriented at times. Good thing she put the Cast of Characters at the beginning or you wouldn't be able to keep them all straight, not that it really mattered most of the time.
Certainly a testament to improving the health care in this country and lobbying for Universal Health Care. It surely c
Actually, mostly just red tape and money. The inner workings of a hospital are naturally fraught with human drama and literal life-and-death situations, so it's a shame that Salamon couldn't make this more engaging. She focuses on the bureaucratic wrangling of doctors and directors and neglects the human interest, to a large extent, of the patients themselves. Maybe if you work in medicine, this will resonate more deeply with you than it did with me. I wandered numbly through it, waiting to be m ...more
The story of Maimonides hospital in Borough Park, Brooklyn is fascinating -- so many characters it needs an index in the beginning, fascinating side stories about the intersection of different nationalities and cultures in one hospital. At times a bit too scattered, with too many plot lines. I would have preferred it if she'd focused solely on the challenges of serving many different groups within a community rather than also attempt to tell the story of the cancer center and the personal storie ...more
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Julie Salamon has written nine books in many genres, most recently Cat in the City, illustrated by Jill Weber. Her other books include New York Times bestsellers Wendy and the Lost Boys and The Christmas Tree (also illustrated by Jill Weber), as well as Hospital, The Devil’s Candy, Facing the Wind , The Net of Dreams , and Rambam’s Ladder. She was a reporter and then the film critic for The Wall S ...more
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The Christmas Tree Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco Facing the Wind: A True Story of Tragedy and Reconciliation Cat In The City

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